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Crews clear debris from Angeles Crest Hwy

December 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Our rainy weekend caused a lot of problems with rockslides, and Caltrans is taking full advantage of the break between storms to clear mountain roads of debris.Angeles Crest Highway remained closed Monday as crews were out cleaning rocks and mud from the roadway. The storm is gone, and except for the mountain roads, damage caused by the storm in the burn areas was minor.

Road crews worked through the night and Monday to clear mountain roadways and get them open again, but it may be until Tuesday when Angeles Crest Highway is open to through traffic.

Big Tujunga Canyon Road also remains closed to all but residents. Water continues to flow out of side canyons. Mudslides that came down on the roadway have been cleared, and canyon residents who rode out the storm say all in all, it wasn't bad.

"It's better than we expected, actually. We did everything we could to prevent the mountain from coming down on us, and we were lucky. We only had a slide up on the main road. Right here on the ranch, we didn't have any problems," said Gary Ware, the manager of the Trail Canyon Equestrian Center located in Big Tujunga Canyon.

Over the weekend, 40 of the most vulnerable residents in Big Tujunga's burn area were ordered to evacuate. Some left, but many stayed. Ware says he stayed put to take care of the ranch's animals including several dozen Leprozana show horses.

"We stayed up all night watching it. I drove up. We had a culvert that overflowed. That was our major problem, so we were really lucky," said Ware.

Public works officials say all their preparations for the storm worked remarkably well. There was a minor mudslide in Glendale's Deukmejian Wilderness Park, but it was quickly cleaned up. The area's 28 debris basins handled the storm run on without filling up.

"Everything functioned the way it was supposed to function. The storm, in fact, was as we forecast, with a couple of inches of rain in the mountains, but the debris basins the whole flood control systems stood up to the test this time, and we are getting ready for the next one," said Bob Spencer of the L.A. County Department of Public Works.

Spencer says the county mapped the storm in real time over the weekend, using Smart R Mobile Doppler Radar which allows officials to see the storm's dynamics as they roll over the San Gabriel Mountain burn areas.

That radar belongs to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the county hopes that NOA will be persuaded to keep its radar in the area through the rest of the winter through all the storms that are still ahead.


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